Last week my blog focused on the adoption of cloud computing among mainstream hardware manufacturers. Many companies are looking to sell cloud companion services alongside their devices, bringing in vital extra revenue as profit margins fall. But what about businesses who need those services? Are they spending more as a result?
Banks are reluctant to lend, and most people running a business are treading carefully. Even large businesses are looking to cut costs without cutting corners, and cautious CEOs don’t want to over-invest in – well, anything. It would be tempting to see the cloud as a temporary solution to the credit crunch; a way to escape the inevitable casualties of deep recession. However, cloud computing now has a strong enough foothold to rival and overtake traditional on-site IT services.
There are obviously cost barriers when switching to the cloud, but over time, most companies should find that the investment pays off – especially when they realise the cloud is here to stay, and sooner or later, there won’t be many reasons not to switch.
The fact that the cloud is scalable and flexible is a bonus to any business which needs to keep its eye on cash flow. Familiarity also helps. A couple of years ago, ‘cloud computing’ wouldn’t have meant much to anyone, and the idea of using Hosted Exchange for corporate email would have seemed like a very alien concept. In 2012, almost everyone with an iOS device knows that they can use an app called iCloud to sync data. Sharing large files is easy and quick with cloud storage. Widespread adoption brings trust in technology, particularly among less technically savvy users who would ordinarily be reluctant to store data on someone else’s server.
In August 2010, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff wrote an article for Wired claiming the death of the web. They predicted the rise of the web or mobile app in place of traditional browsing. Eighteen months ago, that idea sounded much more far-fetched than it does today. Now consider the way we use our devices: in a few short years, we’ve done away with almost all moving parts. The optical CD or DVD drive is missing on the newest Ultrabooks, replaced by smaller, more expensive solid-state drives. The Google Chromebook comes with barely any software except the Google Chrome browser; the interaction the computer has with the cloud is the key to its existence. Devices are reaching a point where the cloud is the most essential component. There is an inter-dependence between hardware and the cloud that will certainly ensure its survival.
Just as the death of the web was almost unthinkable in August 2010, so the concept of inefficient local data storage will become alien to us within the next couple of years. The move towards the cloud frees up hardware manufacturers to make cheap devices and sell services on a subscription model; the small business owner can vary the level of their subscription from month-to-month. Services like Hosted Exchange 2010 are an efficient way to do business and are fast becoming the most essential components in our digital lives.